By Derrick White
John Ford’s “The Searchers” (1956) was my dad’s favorite film. It is a milestone Hollywood western, a Technicolor marvel with shades of emotional melancholy, tackling the myth of manifest destiny with a man’s horseback quest to find and recover his remaining family. I will always associate this western and horses with my dad. He raised horses throughout his life more often than not. One of my earliest memories is my dad giving me a horse drawing lesson starting with two circles and simple shapes.
So, there is an instantaneous wistfulness when I see the exceptional work of local artist Diane Ditzler Frossard. This artist works in a variety of media including oils, watercolor, graphite, and charcoal. She has an extraordinary capacity to capture the essence of natural light on her realistic subjects and allows quick expressive marks and brushstrokes to build and become greater than the sum of their parts. A captured realism created from magically expressive movements leaves the viewer to become the searcher and reap the rewards of taking a double take and examining with a closer eye Frossard’s amazing artwork.
“It is gratifying when someone is drawn to one of these paintings, saying it reminds them of something familiar to them,” the artist stated. “As early as I can remember, I have had a passion for two things: art and horses. My father, an avid horseman, introduced me to horses at an early age, and they have always been a part of my life. I also loved drawing or doing anything related to art in my spare time. My mother briefly took an oil painting class. I thought her painting was wonderful, but she felt otherwise and didn’t continue. I asked if I could use her leftover paints and canvas. Although I had no idea what I was doing I had fun creating my first oil painting (of my paint horse) when I was about 10 years old.”
Diane Frossard has a degree in geology, not the typical path for an aspiring full-time artist. She knew she wanted to pursue art, but only painting what interested her and not have the pressure of having to support herself financially so she, and her husband, both worked as geologists. They moved their family to Tyler and established a ranch. Their horses are like family members, pampered, occasionally ridden, and often the subjects in her paintings.
“I still have the offspring of one of my childhood horses. He is now 33, and we have grown up together,” Frossard said.
Frossard is a Master Signature Member of the Outdoor Painter’s Society, a national plein air (painting outdoor subjects in the open air) group featuring the annual exhibition, Plein Air Southwest. Many of her landscapes are produced specifically for this exhibition. These landscapes are fairly small because they were created on location and had to be executed within a specific time frame before the light changed too much.
She says her inspiration usually comes when she is not looking for it: while feeding horses, doing chores, or taking walks. The lighting and time of day are crucial to making a seemingly mundane subject come alive. Thirteen of Frossard’s landscape paintings were featured at the Tyler Museum of Art in 2015 in the “Reflections of East Texas” exhibition.
Artists search for guidance. With the support of her husband, Diane has attended and learned from many different workshops.
“Bruce Peil was my mentor and introduced me to plein air painting. Paintings from life are bold, fresh, and immediate small works of art. I highly recommend Bruce Peil who works and teaches out of his renovated barn/studio, in Athens, to anyone looking for a good foundation in landscape painting,” the artist suggested.
Artists search for the sublime. “The older I get, the stronger my desire is to take the ordinary things I see in my life and bring forth something unique and poetic from it. The reference is a jumping off point. The challenge is being able to tap into your muse and bring out unique, mystical, and sometimes fleeting images from your mind. For me, it is most often done through the use of light,” Frossard said.
Artists search for development. Solitary practice is important and experiencing frustrating failures helps one grow as an artist.
“My breakthroughs and improvements most often come during those independent, alone times. I actually learn the most just from closely studying the work of master artists and staring at paintings in museums and online, how they solved problems, their compositions, brushwork, etc,” Frossard said.
Frossard is searching to give back to her community in a variety of ways. “In gratitude for all who have shared their insight and expertise with me, I like to share what I have learned,” she said. Frossard has been volunteering for a couple of art classes at St. Gregory School for 15 years.
Other projects include the “Hope” column for the “Pillars of Hope” mural project under the Gentry St. Bridge where homeless and others gather for church. She is currently working on a painting of the Tyler Square, which will be offered through auction at “The Art of Transformation” fundraiser on November 16th. All proceeds from the sale of this painting will benefit the Highway 80 Rescue Mission’s Triumph Village, a new housing project and recovery program for the homeless.
Artists search for satisfaction. Diane stated, “Non-artists often don’t realize, unless you are married to one, a lot of hard work, frustration, planning, and years of experience go into a good painting that looks simple and easily executed. It is hard to make it look effortless. It is not all fun, requires problem solving, and can be stressful at times, but tremendously worth it. It never gets any easier, because you are constantly working at a higher level; the more you learn and improve, the more your critical eye is ahead of your current ability. It can be frustrating at times when people don’t understand the value of original art: the expense of materials, canvas, paints, brushes, etc., the time involved, plus the years of experience.”
For more info about Diane Frossard go to DianeFrossard.com. Her work can currently be seen at Artist Showplace in Dallas and Valerosa in Tyler.
For anyone interested in figure drawing, Tyler has a life drawing group on Thursday evenings 6-9pm for $20 at Brick Street Studios, 1000 Augusta hosted by Russell Belue. For more info email email@example.com.
Caleb Bell: Inside the Artist’s Studio
Ride the Lightning
By Derrick White
“I think we are very fortunate here in Tyler. There are a lot of generous donors and supporters at various levels throughout the community. Since I moved to Tyler, there has been a noticeable increase in interest in the arts. The scene has definitely grown. Everything takes time, but I feel like we are moving in the right direction,” states Tyler Museum of Art curator, Caleb Bell.
Curators are those in charge of finding and selecting, classifying, handling and exhibiting artistic and cultural collections. Bell studied public relations & advertising and art history at the University of Texas at Tyler and graduated, magna cum laude, in 2011. He started as the public relations and marketing coordinator at the Tyler Museum of Art in early 2012. In 2014, Caleb began working on exhibitions and became curator in 2016. In addition to organizing exhibitions and programs over the last several years for the TMA, Bell has presented exhibitions at other institutions and given art talks at museums and galleries.
Caleb served as a curatorial advisor for an exhibition at Women & Their Work in Austin, juried numerous competitions including this year’s CADD (Contemporary Art Dealers of Dallas) Fund, and worked on public art projects at Tyler Junior College and the University of Texas at Tyler. Most recently, he served as the juror for Craighead Green Gallery’s New Texas Talent XXVI exhibition in Dallas. This is an important exhibition and perhaps the last remaining noteworthy free juried show in the state, and a significant prospect for emerging Texas contemporary artists. It opens in August. It seems Caleb is all over the state promoting and bringing well[deserved attention to the arts of East Texas. Bell is riding the lightning of what is going in our regional community and he is a large part of what gives it legitimacy.
He describes, “I think one of the most important things art brings to my life is community. First and foremost, the connections and friendships I’ve made within the Tyler community. I have been fortunate to meet a lot of wonderful people through the museum and will be forever grateful. Our donors and members are very supportive, and I couldn’t do any of this without them. I’ve also met a lot of great artists over the years. While I’ve only met some in passing, I’ve gotten to know many personally while working on exhibitions and other projects. Likewise, I have gotten to meet a lot of passionate collectors who have been generous with their resources. In my experience, the Texas art community is pretty well connected. I have gotten to know many museum professionals across the state and try to support them when possible. I have also had the pleasure to work with many gallerists throughout Texas. When visiting their spaces in Dallas, Houston, etc., it always feels good to be greeted when walking through the gallery door. And almost always I instantly hear, what’s new in Tyler?”
Bell states, “I am very excited for the future of Texas contemporary art. In addition to veteran artists still contributing important work, there are a lot of talented, emerging artists working throughout the state. The Texas art scene is becoming more connected which is definitely a plus. There seem to be more alternative and non-traditional spaces popping up. I think those kinds of spaces can offer a unique viewing opportunity and allow for more artistic flexibility. From my observations, there seems to be a renewed interest in performance art. I also see more artists creating installation-based work. It feels like there is a real focus on providing a unique experience for viewers.”
When asked what inspired him to start curating exhibitions, Caleb Bell answers, “Edward Hopper once said, ‘If you could say it in words, there would be no reason to paint.’ I think about this quote often when looking at work. I understand the power of art and want to share it with others. When putting together an exhibition, I am providing the viewer with an experience. And whether it is just encountering something new or providing a completely different perspective, it is my hope each viewer walks away slightly changed after looking at an exhibition.” He adds, “In an increasingly ephemeral world, art is lasting. Even when performance works are over, they leave an impact. I think the tangible aspect of art is grounding and we need connection in our digital society. I also consider it an honor to get to work with artists to help realize their dreams. Artists create pieces to share and I get to help bring that work to the public’s attention. It is very rewarding.”
Caleb explains, “When putting together an exhibition, I look at a lot of different things. Most importantly, I think about Tyler and the greater East Texas community. I think about how they will relate to and perceive it. I think about it in terms of the larger Texas art scene as well. Has the show already been done? What is the artistic importance of the exhibition? I also think about how we can program around it for the community. A couple of years ago, I presented Double Take: Works by Ed Blackburn which featured works inspired by various movies. I worked with Liberty Hall to put together a movie series tied in with the exhibition. It helped expand the conversation outside of the gallery.”
He continues, “I am always most excited about what is up at the museum at the time. Right now, we have two great exhibitions for the summer, Texas Birds: Works by Frank X. Tolbert 2 (on view through August 4th) and Floating Life: Mississippi River Drawings by Liz Ward (on view through August 25th). I paired them together because they create an interesting conversation between one another. While Frank’s show is all birds, Liz incorporates birds in some of her pieces and focuses on the flora and fauna of the Mississippi River region. They each offer a regionalist take on their respective subject matter. The exhibitions are both primarily works on paper and offer complementary color palettes.”
Caleb concludes, “I know I am biased, but I don’t understand why every person in Tyler doesn’t come to the museum. It is the community’s museum. From a well-rounded exhibition schedule to Family Days and other activities, there is literally something for everyone.”
For more info, go to tylermuseum.org.
Tyler Museum of Art: “Texas Birds” and “Floating Life: Mississippi River”
The Tyler Museum of Art (TMA) is located at 1300 S. Mahon Ave. on the Tyler Junior College main campus. Regular TMA hours are 10am-5pm Tuesday-Saturday, and 1-5pm Sunday. The Museum is closed Mondays. For more info call the museum at (903)595-1001, tylermuseum.org, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Tyler Museum of Art ushers in the summer season with a visual celebration of the avian species that fly the skies over the Lone Star State in the new exhibition “Texas Birds: Works by Frank X. Tolbert 2.” The show continues through August 4th in the TMA’s Bell Gallery. Admission is free.
Organized by the TMA and curated by Caleb Bell, “Texas Birds” spotlights works from Tolbert’s ongoing Texas Bird Project – including a recently finished piece that never has been seen by the public. Started in 2014, this body of work includes drawings, paintings, and prints that highlight a wide variety of the bird species that inhabit the state. The series largely was inspired by early childhood experiences with the Lone Star State’s vast array of flora and fauna on trips the artist took with his father, Frank X. Tolbert Sr., as the elder Tolbert was writing his column “Tolbert’s Texas” for the “Dallas Morning News.” Work on the Texas Bird Project began when the artist was commissioned by Austin’s Flatbed Press & Gallery to create eight bird etchings. After the initial exhibition at Flatbed, Tolbert said he decided to continue the project indefinitely.
“Texas Birds” marks the first time works from the Texas Bird Project have been organized into a major museum exhibition. Tolbert’s work has been widely exhibited and is featured in numerous public collections, including the Blanton Museum of Art in Austin, Dallas Museum of Art, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. He and his wife, artist Ann Stautberg, live and work in Houston.
Support for “Texas Birds” is provided by Collectors’ Circle-Gold Sponsors June and Steve Hillis, and Myrtis D. Smith.
TMA Plots New Course with “Floating Life: Mississippi River Drawings by Liz Ward,” Through August 25th
The Tyler Museum of Art explores the mystique of the South as seen through the eyes of a Texas talent with its next major exhibition, “Floating Life: Mississippi River Drawings by Liz Ward.” The show continues through August 25th in the TMA’s North Gallery.
Organized by the TMA and curated by Caleb Bell, “Floating Life” is the first large-scale museum exhibition of Mississippi River works by Ward, a San Antonio artist and professor of art and art history at Trinity University, whose work largely is informed by natural history and the environmental crisis.
The exhibition spotlights pieces from two recent bodies of work: “Ghosts of the Old Mississippi” and “Veritas Caput.” The works from “Ghosts of the Old Mississippi” are based on geological maps of the river’s ancient courses and inspired by the artist’s childhood memories from South Louisiana, where her great-grandfather spent a career as a riverboat captain.
Pieces from “Veritas Caput” focus on the search for the source of the river by various explorers.
Ward’s work has been widely exhibited and is featured in numerous public collections, including the Tyler Museum of Art, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and the Whitney Museum of American Art.
Support for “Floating Life” is provided by Collectors’ Circle-Gold Sponsors Betty and Dick Summers.
Summer Lecture Series Programs
TMA’s 2019 Summer Lecture Series will be held in the Museum’s Education Gallery. A small reception will follow each lecture. Admission is free, but seating is limited. To RSVP, call (903)595-1001.
- “Divide and Conquer: An Overview of the Mississippi River’s Role in the Civil War” by Dr. James Newsom, Senior Lecturer in Political Science and History, The University of Texas at Tyler will be held at 2:30pm, Sunday, June 23rd
- “I Knew Mark Twain” by Dr. Jim Richey, Professor and Department Chair of English, Tyler Junior College at 2:30pm on Sunday, July 21st
Special events in connection with current exhibitions include a free First Friday tour June 7th, July 5th and August 2nd.
The first Friday of each month, 11am-12:30pm, the TMA offers a full day of free admission plus guided tours of its spotlight exhibitions.
Family Days will be from 2-4pm Saturday, June 8th, July 13th and August 10th.
Free admission, interactive art projects, light snacks, and a festive atmosphere for all ages are on the menu for the second Saturday of each month with the Tyler Museum of Art’s Family Day.
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